Posts Tagged ‘beer’

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the beers of 2010: july

August 4, 2010

July was a good month for beers. You’ve got grilling out on the fourth of July, my birthday grill out with family and a few friends roughly a week later, a few days off of work a little while after that in which we worked in brunch at the Handlebar followed by a round at the Map Room, and a good friend, and fellow beer geek and home brewer’s, birthday to close out the month.

Then, right before the end of the month, Lagunitas released the 2010 batch of Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale. Arguably my second favorite seasonal beer and something I always look forward to.  So there were plenty of opportunities to pour a few pints this past month. And so I did.

July 2010:

AC’s homebrewed California Common
AC’s homebrewed Altbier
Bell’s Oberon (with orange juice aka the beermosa @ Handlebar, Chicago)
Bell’s Two Hearted IPA
Chimay Red*
Corona*
Founders Red Rye Pale Ale*
Goose Island Honkers Ale
Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale
Half Acre/Three Floyds She Wolf IPA*
Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
Lift Bridge Crosscut Pale Ale
New Glarus Moon Man No coast Pale Ale*
New Glarus Spotted Cow*
New Glarus Totally Naked*
Red Stripe*
Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA*
St. Feuillien/Green Flash Biere De L’Amitie
Summit Horizon Red Ale
Surly Coffee Bender
Surly Furious
Three Floyds Alpha King
Three Floyds Apocalypse Cow Double IPA
Two Brothers The Bitter End Pale Ale
Two Brothers Cane and Ebel
Two Brothers Dog Days Dortmunder Lager
Two Brothers Domaine Dupage French Country Ale
Two Brothers Ebelweiss
Two Brothers Hop Juice Imperial IPA
Two Brothers Prairie Path Golden Ale*

*Thanks to all my family and friends that bestowed these brews on me, and shared them with each other, while contributing to the fun on and around my birthday.

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getting stoned.

February 25, 2010

The official announcement from Stone Brewing regarding their arrival in Chicago! Looks like I’ll be needing to take a vacation day or two during the first week of April…

Stone is coming to Chicago on April 1st, no fooling!
Stone Brewing Co. will kick off distribution in the 8 county Chicago metropolitan area with 7 straight days of events! “Stone Beer Week in Chicago” will be an epic celebration of all things Stone, featuring a slew of events at Chicago bars worthy of Stone beers. Dozens of our beers, including rarities from the darkest depths of our archives, will grace tap handles around the Windy City. Along with our beers, we’ll be sending Greg, Mitch, and Steve to meet fledgling Stone fans and introduce our beers! So don’t miss your chance to meet the guys behind Stone Brewing Co. while celebrating the arrival of BeerAdvocate’s “All-Time Top Brewery On Planet Earth.”

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mayor daley not the only arrogant bastard in chicago?

February 16, 2010

Is solid info surfacing on San Diego’s excellent Stone Brewing Co. finally making their beers available in Illinois? The last time these rumors floated in Chicago it was 2008 and nothing really came of it.  Though, I was lucky enough to visit the Hopleaf a year or so ago when they mysteriously had a keg of Stone Ruination Imperial IPA on tap. Turned out to be a one-time thing as a few of the brewers from Stone were in town for a conference and had brought a little gift with them.  This time around though, the rumor is picking up steam. I hit the site of my favorite neighborhood pub the other day and it said this:

…Stone is comming, stone is comming, stone is comming.
um. thats it…

A little googling then turned this up from the brewery’s twitter:

Awesome! Details soon. RT @LimestoneBrew: @stonebrewingco When are you coming into the Chicago Market? We want to carry your great beers! 6:51 PM Jan 29th from TweetDeck

So while no official announcement exists as of yet (that I could find anyway), we’ve got a good Chicago craft beer bar and the brewery’s twitter hinting that it’s a done deal. Someone on Chicago’s best dining board is also saying Stone brews will be in the Chicago area within the next month or so, for whatever that’s worth.

Illinois is cursed with some of the lamest alcohol distribution laws on the books. Old money and the Chicago way are, not surprisingly, still hard at work in this town. Some ridiculous bureaucratic hammer could drop and squash this fantastic news at any time (see the reasons that Bell’s left the Chicago market altogether for nearly two years back in ’06), but given the sources I’m seeing online so far I’m feeling pretty good about  the long-awaited arrival of Stone in Chicago. It’s been long overdue as they are among the last of the “big boys” of American craft brewing to distribute here. Who knows, if Stone can finally make it into Illinois after Port Brewing did it in 2009, maybe that other California brewery, Russian River, the maker of the world’s new #1 beer, can make it happen as well. Dare to dream…and drink.

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chocolate, coffee, beer and me.

October 23, 2009

I am admittedly a complete beer geek and/or beer snob. I’m one of those people that drinks hopped up double IPAs and Belgian ales and seasonal small batch beers from regional craft breweries and can’t stand hanging out at bars where everyone is chugging Miller Lite, Bud and Coronas right out of the cans/bottles.  I regularly cross state lines to buy beers that aren’t distributed in my state.  When I take a trip somewhere, I look up what beers I can get in that city, where the best brew pubs are and if there is a decent brewery in the area that I can tour. I’m that guy.

I’ve also now been a homebrewer for about three and a half years.  I stick mostly to the styles I enjoy drinking the most: India Pale Ales, American Pale Ales, Dunkelweizens and Hefeweizens. I’m capable of making some pretty damn good beers if I do say so myself, and since I’m the one that drinks the majority of the beers that I brew…well, self hi-five.

However, toward the end of this past spring I decided to brew my first Stout. I’d gotten a bit bored making variations of the same basic styles over and over and wanted to try brewing something else. I was a little discouraged because of a bad experience with a Belgian Tripel I tried making a few months into my homebrewing that turned out far short of wonderful. Not being the biggest fan of Stouts in general, I often find the ones I try to be overpowering and entirely too filling. Most beer geeks flip out over the insanely strong Russian Imperial Stouts and the many barrel aged deep, dark seasonal Stouts that pop up from many great craft breweries throughout the country. For whatever reason, I’ve yet to develop a real taste for them. I figured that if I were to try brewing a Stout that I may as well try to brew one of the few Stouts that I truly love and appreciate, Founders Breakfast Stout.

There is nothing subtle about this beer. With flaked oats, coffee and chocolate in addition to four different types of malt, the flavors are intense. Yet it presents a really nice balance between bitter and sweet while at the same time maintaining a complexity that I often miss in many of the Stouts that beer geeks tend to rave about. The commercial version is highly recommended if you can get your hands on it. Strong coffee and chocolate flavors absolutely rip through this excellent brew which beeradvocate.com rates an A+/A and ratebeer.com rates a 100. So yeah, it’s a pretty serious brew. My go at it was based on the clone recipe that was published in BYO magazine. I followed it pretty closely with just a few minor substitutions with the chocolate.

Chocolate and coffee getting ready to be thrown into the boil. April 2009.

Chocolate and coffee getting ready to be thrown into the boil. April 2009.

Since brewing it back in April, and then bottling it in May, its been sitting quietly, well hidden and packed away in a couple of cases at the bottom of the pantry, just waiting to be broken into for the cold fall and winter months. Bottle conditioned now for five and a half months, I decided that the time was right to pour a few bottles on this chilly, windy and rainy day.

Looking, smelling and tasting amazing. The finished Founders Breakfast Stout clone. October 2009.

Looking, smelling and tasting amazing. The finished Founders Breakfast Stout clone brightens a cold and rainy autumn afternoon. October 2009.

I’m really pleased with the way this turned out. The bottle conditioning time has done it well. Patience was the key with this brew. The couple of test bottles I tried over the months while it was conditioning were huge on the coffee without much else coming through. Now, just a few weeks shy of  seven months since brew day, there is a really nice balance between the coffee and the chocolate up front and as it warms a bit the chocolate becomes even more pronounced. I’m hoping to stash some away to enjoy in Jan/Feb ’10 just to see how much more the flavor profile will change. If there is one problem, it is head retention. The nice head you see on the pour in the photo above only lasts for about 3-4 minutes before dissipating almost completely. I’ve read that this is mostly due to the oils from the Kona coffee that the brew was conditioned with during secondary fermentation. I suppose we’ll see what I can do about that when I brew this again next spring. Until then, I’ve got about forty 12 oz. bottles of Breakfast Stout to help get me through this Chicago winter.